In a culture that tries to prevent so much waste,
Rubber is one of the most the wonderful, naturally occurring materials that can stretch and then return to its original shape after manipulation, be recycled over and over again, and is more eco-friendly than we think. It’s a widely used product today with a history stretching back to the native people in Central America and the West Indies who first cultivated and found uses for rubber.
1. Rubber comes from the South American tree called the Hevea brasiliensis and produces a latex sap which is retrieved from the plant once it matures to an age of about six years old.
2. The name “spurge” comes from the old French word espurgier – meaning “to purge”. Incidentally the plants were used as laxatives.
3. Back in the day rubber tires were white because the natural color of rubber is white. However, in the early 1900s, it was found that the use of carbon black in rubber manufacturing provided more desirable qualities for tire rubber.
4. Binney & Smith are responsible for selling their carbon black chemicals to Goodrich Tire Company but later switched to making school products and renaming their company after their most popular product, Crayola Crayons.
5. The rubber tree plant is non-toxic to both adults and kids, but not for dogs as it can be very toxic.
6. Frank Sinatra’s 1961 hit song “High Hopes” is about two situations where animals perform seemingly impossible acts. First, an ant moves a rubber tree plant by itself, then a ram single-handedly destroys a “billion kilowatt dam”.
7. Just before World War II, German scientists developed a synthetic substitution called Buna rubber and was used when importation of natural rubber from the East Indies was cut off. Today, the majority of rubber produced is synthetic and accounts for about 60% of the world’s rubber production.
8. 250 million tires that are discarded yearly, but recycling the unwanted rubber can produce new forms of fuel that are comparable to petroleum-based fuels and coal, thus making rubber more eco-friendly that we thought.